This is probably the most important article I have ever written for two reasons. First, it is a way to make right some of the pain I have caused my wife, and second to keep someone else from making this horrible mistake. About a year ago I began investing my time into building an online presence. I wanted to see if I could make money by creating a web sight and building a following on different social media sites. I even began this blog as a way to communicate ideas and pass on information for people of my age group who have a like minded approach to life. What happened was never wanted or planned for.
When I began to connect online with people on Face-book, Instagram, and especially Twitter, some of these people were helpful and supportive, but there was a darker side of social media that I became involved with that I didn’t plan on and never saw coming. I became involved in several inappropriate online relationships that I now realize were toxic to me and extremely destructive to my marriage. I began to resent the people close to me and to turn instead to those online presences were I could get constant validation and adoration. I began to build a following of people, especially women, who would always praise and admire me, and I could block anyone I felt wasn’t contributing to my daily dose of flattery. It was like a drug, having my ego stroked on an almost daily basis. I gave and received approval and acceptance of my stupidity and hubris. I can see why people become addicted to social media and why society puts so much time and effort into it. But beware-the social networks are not reality. Reality is most likely sitting next to you being ignored while you spend hours on Face-book and Twitter. I ignored and lied to my wife for months while flirting and having inappropriate relationshops with other women. I even went so far as to publicly post hateful and untrue things about my wife to complete strangers to garner sympathy and attention. For this I am truly sorry. I was addicted to social media and I was willing to ignore and hurt my family to garner attention from celebrities and strangers.
Was this reality? Of course not! Those people’s beliefs and likes or dislikes have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not someone’s personal relationships are healthy. In fact, I would venture to say that our fascination with the trivial and mundane actions and opinions of the social elite, or any perfect stranger, is counter-productive to a healthy psychological existence.
There is another side of social media that I would like to address. There are people that treat the internet as their personal playground for having on-line affairs, and it is all too easy to become involved in this type of behavior. It can begin with an innocent comment or joke and quickly denigrate into what can only be described as emotional cheating. Even if you don’t ever act upon it, the fact that you are willing to go to someone other than your spouse for comfort, support and affection is cheating. I was guilty of this behavior, and I am extremely lucky to have a wife that has forgiven my online indiscretions and lack of good judgement, and given me a second chance. Realize that anything you put on the internet has the ability to affect the lives of so many around you, including people you will never meet. The pain it can cause can be immense and irreversible.
There is an old story of a mother who brings her son to a priest because he continues to use foul language and say mean things to others, and she doesn’t know what to do. The Priest thinks for a moment, goes to retrieve a feather pillow, and gives it to the boy. He then instructs the boy to go outside, rip open the pillow and throw the feathers to the wind. When the boy has finished, he goes back into the church, to the Priest and his Mother. The Priest then asks the boy if he has done as he asked, to which he replies “yes!” with a big grin. The Priest then instructs the boy to go retrieve the feathers and put them back into the pillow. The smile quickly leaves the child’s face and is replaced by a look of fear. The Priest asks what is the matter, to which the boy replies “That’s impossible! The feathers are everywhere, scattered in the wind!” The Priest smiles and says “Exactly, Just like words”. The Priest goes on to explain that words are just like feathers, once released into the wind they can never be retrieved. So be careful with the words you release upon the world, they can never be retrieved, and their damage can likely never be undone.
I was reminded of this story when I watched the anguish and pain on the face of someone I love very much ( My Wife) as she read some of the things I had posted on social media. I can never take those things back, all I can do is apologize for my actions and ask forgiveness…although I don’t think that most of the people who are self proclaimed kings and queens of social media will ever feel the need to do that. But you know what- I’ll never know. You see, I have deleted all of my social media accounts and began a new life where I spend my free time with the loved ones who mean everything to me, and very little time (meaning none) paying attention to social media.